Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has resolved to put political gladiators on their toes as the media has a greater stake in promoting the cause of democracy and good governance since its survival, growth, and development are intrinsically linked to its sustenance.
The Editors, therefore, said they have huge responsibility to wield the media gauntlet to put political actors on their toes.
In the face of growing divisive tendencies by state and non-state actors, the umbrella body of all the editors in Nigeria also advised the media to rise to arrest this drift in order to prevent the nation from being torn to shreds.
These were contained in a communique of the 18th All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC), with a theme: ‘Political Landscape, Credible Elections And The Role of Editors’, organised by the NGE and held in Owerri, Imo State, between November 9 and 13, 2022 and signed by NGE president, Mustapha Isah, and the general secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren.
A total of 320 Editors representing print, broadcast, and online media across the country attended the conference.
Noting that the media has a responsibility to ensure that political actors abide by issue-based campaigns, the editors said there was an urgent need for the media to play down reports that tend to exacerbate divisive tendencies as part of the process of promoting integration of the different peoples of Nigeria.
“The media should unequivocally set the agenda of discourse to prevent mischief makers from holding sway. Journalists must ensure that those who seek to lead the people at different levels are properly grilled in order to present the people with informed choices.
“The media, more than any other institutions in the country, is equipped to check the drift towards insanity. It has a responsibility to wield its gauntlet to put political actors on their toes and ensure that political actors abide by issue-based campaigns,’’ the communique stated.
The editors added that because the media has always been at the heart of the struggle for sustainable democracy, it must ensure it raises the level of political discourse, and guide the people to make informed choices as the 2023 general election draws near.
On the security situation in the country, the conference said that security agencies needed to see the media as partners and not adversities in the anti-terror war; appreciate the work of journalists; and eschew intimidation, harassment, and other acts that impede the work of the media.
The conference stated further, “The media needs to strike a partnership with the security agencies on the anti-terror war. The media need to exercise its immense influential power and agenda-setting role with a huge dose of responsibility and commitment to the national interest.’’
The conference also enjoined the media to check the increasing resort to fake news, which tends to cause panic, despair, and unnecessary stoking of anger.
As the 2023 general elections draw near, the editors noted the introduction of technology and the ushering of Electoral Act 2022, which have armed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver better election outcomes, advising the electoral body to resist undue influence and intimidation from the political class.
The conference commended the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for promoting a more congenial atmosphere for media engagement and expressed profound and deep gratitude to the Imo State Government and the administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma for hosting the conference.
Chaired by the deputy vice chancellor, Paul University, Awka, Anambra State, Prof Stella Okunna, governor Uzodinma of Imo State served as the special guest and declared the conference opened.
Other guests included the speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Emeka Nduka; former Information minister and immediate-past president, Ohanaeze Ndi’Igbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo; Senator Osita Izunaso, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Declan Emelumba, representative of the NSA, Mr Zakari Usman and two former Presidents of NGE, Mr Gbenga Adefaye, also provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and Malam Baba Dantiye, a recently retired permanent secretary in Kano State.
While 15 senior editors were conferred with the Fellow of NGE, 35 editors were inducted as new members of the Guild.